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Best Music for Family Road Trips

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Music is one of the best tools for keeping families content and entertained during a road trip. The trick is to find music that both the kids AND the parents enjoy. Here are some suggestions for the best music for family road trips from travel experts.

Best Music for Family Road Trips

Adult Music Kids Like

You don’t have to listen to nothing but the neighing and mooing of “Old McDonald’s Farm” to keep the kids happy. Choose catchy adult tunes with g-rated lyrics and you’re good to go. Some of my family’s preferred road trip artists include the Jackson 5, Paul McCartney, and Janet Jackson. My kids know all of the words to Janet’s “Someone to Call My Lover.” Despite the title, this song is fairly kid-friendly. Plus, it is ever so funny to watch a three-year-old and six-year-old belting out, “Maybe we’ll meet at a bar. He’ll drive a funky car. Maybe we’ll meet at a club. And fall so deeply in love.”

Have Baby Will Travel’s Corinne McDermott said, “Luckily my kids are still small, and don’t realize they could actually have a say or that their favorite kiddie shows have soundtracks you can purchase. We survive by choosing kid-friendly grown-up music – Bob Marley, old Beatles, and ABBA usually make the list.”

Mara Gorman of Mother of All Trips said, “The favorite songs change, but one that is always a favorite is actually ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ by Queen. This means it can be just like a scene from Wayne’s World in our car, which is lots of fun. Fortunately the boys don’t really seem to pay attention to the topic of the song. Their love was cemented when I showed them the version performed by the Muppets on YouTube.”

Keryn Means of Walking on Travels likes to play Muse in the car for her son, Dek. She said, “I started listening to Muse when Dek was in the womb. When he was first born, it was the only music that would calm him down in the car and make him stop crying. Now that he is older, he bounces along to the drum beats.”

Kid Music Adults Like

Many parents detest the thought of children’s music, like David Robert Hogg of My Little Nomads, who said, “Music is one area where my kids get zero input.”

At first I avoided buying music made specifically for children, too. I figured I could play whatever I wanted and my children would never know the difference. But then Grandma Ellen bought a few CDs with songs like “Puff the Magic Dragon” and “The Ants Go Marching In.” Now, my kids are hooked.

Turns out, I don’t mind children’s music so much. There certainly are some annoying options out there (off-key choruses of children singing, anyone?), but CDs for children tend to be upbeat and great for sing-a-longs. Check out Wee Sing in the Car and Twin Sisters Productions’ Down by the Bay.

According to Rainer Jenss of National Geographic Intelligent Travel, the children’s CD No! by They Might be Giants is fun for both kids and adults. Meanwhile, Keryn’s family prefers Muppets music for road trips. She said, “It’s kid -friendly, but parent-friendly too. [My husband] and I grew up on the Muppets so it brings back some fun memories that we can share with our son.”

I personally love the Putamayo World Music collection of culturally diverse songs. However, these have been a bit of a hard sell with my kids. The Sing-A-Longs and Lullabies for the film Curious George is a big hit with my whole family, though. The kids enjoy the sweet melodies and lyrics; the parents appreciate Jack Johnson’s singing and guitar strumming.


Bring along some mellow music to calm children and maybe encourage some deliciously silent sleeping in the backseat. I have probably listened to the CD from the movie, The Garden State, at least a thousand times in the car. This soundtrack works like a automatic sleep button for my kindergartner. Even though she typically no longer takes naps, if I put this music on, she will be asleep in her booster seat within minutes. Meagan Ross of Mini Globetrotters recommends the Rockabye Baby and Hushabye Baby series because they are, “sweet and gentle enough for baby to snooze and fun [and] retro enough for mom and dad to hum along.” 

Mix It Up

Dr. Jessica Voigts of Wandering Educators suggests making mix CDs or playlists on MP3 players. Her family’s mixes include funk from her husband’s youth, musical soundtracks that she loves, and current songs that their nine-year-old daughter enjoys.

Stay Safe on the Road

While you’re bopping along to all of these good tunes, be sure to stay safe on the road. Good Hands Roadside Assistance is a new program from Allstate Insurance that’s FREE to sign up for. You only pay if you use the service. In most cases it’s just $75 for a tow and $50 for other services. I signed up the other day and it was a quick and easy process.

What music do you play on family road trips? Share your favorites in the comments!

A Note from The Travel Mama: I was compensated by Allstate to write this post. I was not required to sign up for the program but I like to be safe on the road. And I like free stuff. Don’t you?!

About Colleen Lanin

Colleen Lanin is the founder/editor-in-chief of As the author of her book, "The Travel Mamas' Guide," she teaches parents not only how to survive a trip with children, but also how to love exploring the world with their offspring. Her stories have appeared online and in print for such outlets as the "Today" show,, Parenting Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, Chicago Tribune, Expedia, San Diego Family Magazine, and more. Colleen gives tips on television, radio, and as a public speaker. She has a master’s degree in business administration with a background in marketing. She lives in Arizona with her husband and two kids.

  1. Lisa Goodmurphy says

    Some great suggestions for family-friendly road trip music! We’re theatre geeks in my family so we sing along to a lot of soundtracks from musicals on our car trips.

  2. wandering educators says

    what a great list – thank you!!

  3. Jessica, WhyGo Italy says

    An oldie but a goodie from my childhood was Carole King’s “Really Rosie.” Great songs (it’s Carole King, fergodsake) that kids love, and that are adult-friendly, too.


  1. 27 Blogs with Tons of Songs to Teach Your Kids to Sing | Babysitters says:

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